Chief of staff for California state Sen. Bill Dodd, Ezrah Chaaban, wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award
Responsibilities with your company: Serve as chief policy and legislative adviser to the Senator; counsel the senator on his legislative package and his votes on pending bills; draft legislation and amendments; Analyze legislation, existing statutes and case law; draft comment letters to governmental entities regarding rulemaking and other administrative decisions; supervise a staff of 18 employees across multiple locations, including district, legislative and committee staff; review and approve staff work product; manage office budget; direct constitute outreach activities and ensure standards are met for constituent services; and lead external communication.
In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?
I am passionate about and committed to the work I do.
Years with company: 4
Length of time in current position: 4
Number of company-wide employees: 18
Number who report to you: 18
Greatest professional accomplishment: I have helped shepherd 67 bills into law as a chief of staff in the California State Legislature. It’s humbling to know that, in one way or another, many of them make a positive difference in our community and to 40 million Californians.
Greatest professional challenge: I think that for any leader, there’s always a struggle between putting out the sundry (metaphorical) fires that pop up and focusing enough energy to accomplish the big, systemic advancements needed to drive your organization forward. It’s a balancing act.
Best advice received: L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. What’s essential is invisible to the eye.
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: Working to preserve the open space around the site of the former Sonoma Developmental Center. As someone who lives and grew up in Sonoma Valley and wants to see future generations benefit from that land, getting that protection in perpetuity was especially meaningful.
What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?
We work to make sure that everyone feels like a valued member of the team and that everyone has ownership of meaningful work, so they can realize genuine accomplishments.
Next professional goal: Having a successful 2020 legislative session.
Education: Juris doctorate, UC Davis School of Law; Bachelor of Arts degree, Sonoma State University ; H.S. Diploma, Sonoma Valley High School.
Community/nonprofit activities: I have previously served on the Sonoma State University Alumni Association Board of Directors, Sonoma County Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee, PRMD Director’s Advisory Group and the Santa Rosa Plain Basin Advisory Panel. I also enjoy volunteering to support our local parks.
Mentor/admired businessperson: My dad was a huge influence. Honorable mention to Mr. Rogers and Harry S. Truman.
What is your most disliked industry buzzword?
Typical day at the office: The great thing about my job is that there isn’t a typical day. It’s generally a bit frenetic, but the common thread is that I learn something new every single day and that I get to solve problems.
Best place to work outside of your office: I enjoy the occasions when I get out of the office to meet constituents at community events.
Hobbies: Hiking and kayaking. Luther Burbank summed it up best when he described our region as “the chosen spot of all this earth as far as nature is concerned. In the North Bay, we’re blessed to have an amazing natural playground in our backyard, and I try to explore it every chance I get.